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every american lost 70k financial crisis

The Great Recession that began in late 2007 was a painful period in many Americans' lives. Everyone who was invested in the market, people who were overextended in mortgages, and those who lost jobs as a result of a crippled economy, were among the millions affected. 

Since then, many people have recovered from the financial setbacks. Nevertheless, a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests that challenges linger. According to Fed researchers, the long-run effects of the financial crisis cost every American an estimated $70,000 in lifetime income.

The researchers point to a big decline in domestic output levels as a primary cause of those losses. Based on early-2000s Congressional Budget Office forecasts, our national gross domestic product remains well below what its 2007 trend implies we might have been at now. And it's said to be unlikely that the economy will ever make up that lost territory.

While that specter raises many questions, it brings up another important, practical query. How should people preparing for retirement overcome this gap? 

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understanding reverse mortgage img

Once, reverse mortgages were considered to be the financial stepchild of retirement income sources. But respected authorities like Wade Pfau have shed new light on its potential uses in a retirement strategy. Now, growing shares of financial professionals, retirees, and other Americans see their benefits for certain situations.

If you have any pre-conceived notions about reverse mortgages, you might have formed them while watching those TV commercials with Tom Selleck, Robert Wagner, Henry Winkler, or one of many other well-known personalities.

You might ask, "What roles might a reverse mortgage play in my retirement income plan?" That is a good question. Let’s take a look at some potential uses for a reverse mortgage, including what it may involve.

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when should you retire

Like most of us, chances are years ago you imagined the ideal age you would stop working and start living your dream retirement. A new study reveals that the answer to "what’s the optimal retirement age" depends on the age of the person you ask.

Bankrate.com surveyed Americans of different generations. While each had its own idea of the ideal retirement age, on average those surveyed believe the best age to retire to be 61.

Gen Xers and Millennials chose 61 and 60, respectively, as their ideal ages. Baby boomers (ages 64-72) and the silent generation (age 73+), possibly making a more seasoned estimate of the optimal retirement age, chose age 64 to 65.

Everyone wants to retire comfortably, especially after years of hard work. But age forecasting isn't necessarily the best way to approach this. Just-as-critical questions to ask (if not more so) are: "What income do I want to retire at?" and "What financial resources will I need to enjoy my preferred lifestyle?"

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working in retirement new norm

What do you plan to do the first day you actually retire? Plan that dream trip? Write that first page of your novel? Explore new opportunities to partake in hobbies or other interests? Just take a deep breath and learn to relax?

If you are like most of the retirees surveyed in the 2018 Retirement Preparedness Study, your retirement years may look a lot like your working years.

Or, at least, that is what working-age Americans foresee for their retirement futures. Commissioned by PGIM Investments and conducted by The Harris Poll, the study found that 52% of pre-retiree baby boomers expect to have a full-time or part-time job during retirement.

This finding is in sharp contrast to the lifestyle of current retirees, with only 6% of them working for a paycheck. Pre-retiree Gen Xers are even more convinced they will need to work in retirement, according to the study, as a substantial 58% responded this way.

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whats happening to social security medicare

If you are gearing up for retirement, chances are you have seen the headlines. Earlier this June, the trustees of Social Security and Medicare published their annual reviews of both programs. And, at first glance, their news isn’t good.

The trustees acknowledged the programs face funding challenges. But that is a far cry from them being completely emptied. Even so, it wasn’t long before the Internet was flooded with alarmist headlines on the outlooks for Medicare and Social Security. As we will see in a bit, even some prominent news organizations had a few of the critical details wrong.

Like many people, you may have thought at some point: “Will Medicare and Social Security be there when I retire?” It’s a legitimate question, especially considering how you have paid into these program funds for your entire working life.

Let’s try to get to the bottom of these worries—and clear up some confusion—by consulting the latest research and findings on the one issue that affects every American who plans to retire one day.   

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 retirement risks part 2

Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series on retirement risks that we should definitely plan for. For more information on retirement money mishaps and how you can enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you may find helpful answers in The New Retirement Report

In the first half of this series, we discussed 5 of the 10 Retirement Risks you need to plan for. With apologies to the Late Night Show and Late Show, no Top 10 List would be complete with a stop at the halfway point. So, without further ado.... Here are 5 other retirement risks that retired and working-age investors should definitely heed.

As you read through this list, you may want to consider the strategies your plan has to manage these risks. If you are unsure or would like more confidence in your plan, a retirement-knowledgeable financial professional can help you. Their guidance can help identify potential financial gaps, clarify your needs, and solve for those shortcomings. 

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retirement risks

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on retirement risks that we should definitely plan for. For more information on potential retirement money mistakes and how you can enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, you may find helpful answers in The New Retirement Report. You can find Part 2 of this series here

Top Ten Lists were a signature of David Letterman’s Late Night and Late Show legacies. Now that he’s 70, if Letterman were to prepare such a list today, it might look something like this: "The Top Ten Retirement Risks I Didn’t See Coming, But Should Have."

While three decades on TV may give Dave the aplomb to tackle top retirement risks with more leniency, this isn't the case for everybody. Not everyone can be blasé about what they face as they enter and move through retirement. To help you look ahead—and plan accordingly—we offer these Top Ten Retirement Risks You CAN See Coming.

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social security break even point age

When you begin claiming your Social Security benefits is one of the most important decisions you will make. Knowing when to start your benefits—and when not to—could mean thousands of more dollars to you, and your surviving spouse, when you could use the income the most.

But with so many claiming possibilities, when is the right time? 

You probably have heard arguments for claiming early and waiting. That being said, it pays off to understand the break-even ages for Social Security benefits, their impact, and how different claiming ages may compare.

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 social security benefits to increase 2018

Good news! Next year, Social Security beneficiaries will get their biggest raise since 2012. The Social Security Administration reports that monthly benefits will receive a 2% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2018.

For the average retiree, the increase amounts to around $27 extra a month. For the year, it adds up to an extra $324 in benefit payments. Social Security beneficiaries will see increased payments in January 2018, while increased payments for SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 29, 2017.

While this is welcome news, another development may offset the increased benefits for retirees. Many retirees actually may see little or no increase in payments. Most beneficiaries have Medicare Part B premiums taken from their Social Security. For those who have benefited from the “hold harmless” provision of Medicare law in recent years, Medicare may eat into some or all of the raise.

Let’s get more into the details of this now.

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 guide to taxes on social security retirement benefits

When calculating individual benefits, the Social Security Administration draws on up to 35 years of personal earnings history. To receive Social Security benefits in the first place, you have to work at least 10 years. Therefore, it’s not that surprising that many people see their benefits as something they have earned.

Yet each year, Uncle Sam collects a share of people’s benefits through income taxes. You may have to pay taxes on as much as 50%-85% of your benefits, depending on how much income you report to the IRS.

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how debt is crippling retirement goals

According to MagnifyMoney, people are carrying more than goal checklists into retirement. A recent analysis by them looked at data from the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) Health and Retirement Study. Their results found that more Americans are shouldering debt in their 50s and over.

It’s a serious finding, given that Americans have named mortgages and other debts among their top five money concerns. In the study, MRRC researchers survey over 20,000 Americans aged 50+ on many topics of financial well-being. This publication showed survey results from 2014.

MagnifyMoney found a number of debt trends that could undermine, or even cripple, the retirement goals of numerous Americans. Let’s look at how debt is affecting older Americans and their post-work lives.

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safe money investments

As far as financial security goes, when thinking of retirement, it’s important to consider the safety of your financial portfolio.

Do you have reliable income streams in place for retirement, whether for a set period or life? Is there enough liquidity in your assets to allow you to retire comfortably? Is enough of your money safe and put in secure, dependable places? Do you have an appropriate financial strategy for combating the the impact of inflation, high-ticket expenses like long-term care, and other costly retirement risks?

All of this brings us to a discussion on building a dependable safety net and how to make sure that you can answer these questions with confidence.

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do you need an emergency fund in retirement

Time and again, we are told of the importance of having an emergency fund. It makes sense, especially for retirement. After all, retirees are likely to have unexpected costs creep up, just like everyone else does. But according to a BankRate survey, even a small unexpected expense could be a struggle for many households.   

In the survey, nearly 60% didn’t have enough savings to pay for emergency expenses. Almost half (45%) said they or immediate family had incurred a major emergency expense in the last 12 months. Among high-income households and college graduates, nearly half lacked enough savings to handle emergency costs.

While emergency expenses can affect anyone, they may create harmful setbacks for retired households. Many retirees live on a fixed income. Without the fallback of healthy earned income, like that in the working years, they could find unexpected expenses to be disruptive. All of this underscores the practical wisdom of having financial cushioning for emergencies.

So, what’s a target amount to have in an emergency fund? And what are some ways you can build up emergency reserves? Here’s a quick look at some strategies.

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top social security questions answered

Like other people, you probably hold a Social Security card. But unless you are close to retirement, you may not know that much about Social Security benefits. As a large governmental program, Social Security has many rules and moving parts that can affect you.

Social Security plays an important role for retired households. Among elderly beneficiaries, 48% of married couples and 71% of single persons receive half or more of their income from Social Security. As you near retirement, you may have questions of your own. Learning more about Social Security will help you get the most out of your benefits.

Because Social Security is a major income source for many people, when you claim benefits might be one of your most important retirement decisions. However, moving through the ins-and-outs of this program can be daunting. To help you get started with planning for your benefits and other income sources, here are answers to seven top Social Security questions.

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safe money strategies blog

As we inch closer to our retirement age, it becomes more important for us to have more control of our money and the future. This is true for a variety of reasons. But for many of us, more control means a greater sense of financial security.

However, financial peace is hardly a happy accident. Rather, it comes from careful planning and following a well-laid-out strategy built for retirement, a plan that emphasizes income, safety, and protection. In simple terms, we can call this sort of plan a “Safe Money Strategy.”

Building a solid safe money strategy, however, is not as simple as it may sound. For one, the financial needs for each of us are different, especially at the near-retirement and post-retirement phases of life. And as the life expectancies of people in the U.S. have increased, retirement planning has certainly become important like never before.

There was a time not so long ago when our grandparents lived comfortably throughout their retirement years, relying mostly on their employer pension, Social Security, and perhaps other income sources. However, the golden days of pensions and other employer-sponsored income vehicles are long gone. Now our approach to retirement planning must be different, as it’s more of an individual responsibility than ever.

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  what is safe money img

“What is safe money?” That is a question that many Americans are asking. And it’s not surprising why. From retirement presentations and dinner seminars to weekend financial talk shows and radio commercials, safe money is a common theme in many public forums.

Generally speaking, a broad definition of safe money is “the money you can’t afford to lose.” Since everyone has different needs, goals, and situations, this concept means different things to every person. For some, safe money could be lifelong savings they have built up and need to preserve. Or it might be accumulated wealth that needs to be protected from risk, as it will be a source of retirement income.

For others, it could be a stockpile of money they will need at a certain time, like funding their children’s college education, paying off the mortgage, or buying a luxury item for which they saved a long time. Yet for some other Americans, safe money might be a future account balance – a sum of money that they want to grow safely and efficiently.

So, the answer to “what is safe money?” is it depends. Your own needs, goals, and situation provide the financial context of its meaning. But boiling down to the essentials, safe money is about security and protection… money that is safe and as free from unnecessary risk as is possible.

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generational conversations habits retirement planning

You have probably heard plenty of old platitudes about the importance of taking action. For many, “if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk” is one such truism. But in money matters, people often hesitate to prepare for their retirement future. For that matter, they might not even discuss it with their family and other loved ones.

In various research studies, the findings are stifling. Not only are Americans struggling with retirement readiness, debt, and living within their financial means. They may limit themselves in their discussions of financial matters. Money may be a taboo subject or people may be embarrassed about their personal financial circumstances to the point of not wanting to discuss them - not to mention other possible factors.

So, just how are Americans going about retirement and financial topics? And how might this affect future generational spending and saving practices? Let’s dive into the numbers.

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donald trump retirement issues effects

Photo credit: Donald Trump at Marriott Marquis NYC, 2016. By Michael Vadon (2016), Photo Link, Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). Photo attribution by PhotosforClass.com.

Just two weeks into his presidential tenure, Donald Trump already is taking swift action. From sweeping executive orders to bold ambitions for tax reform, immigration, job growth, and more, these times are a whirlwind. Many Americans wonder what it might mean for the future. What effects could a Trump administration have on issues relating to their retirement?

During the campaign season, President Trump was a political wildcard. Not all of his policy stances were clear, and at that point, that meant uncertainty and wide-ranging speculation for retirement investors. However, since entering the White House, Trump has clarified some of his policy positions. The question then becomes what all of this means for hard-working American households, whether retired or getting ready for that stage.

If you are retired or preparing to retire within the next four years, this post will go over a few important ways the Trump administration can be impactful. Read on for some quick takeaways that will be helpful for your retirement planning future.

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important information dol rule

Photo Credit: The Frances Perkins Building located at 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Built in 1975, the modernist office building serves as headquarters of the United States Department of Labor. U.S. Department of Labor Headquarters, Creative Commons Photo, Author "Agnostic Preacher Kid," May 30, 2010, Property solely of author. Distributed with permission through Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported LicenseAttribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

As a retirement investor, you may have come across the “DOL fiduciary rule.” A new ruling from the Department of Labor, it is scheduled to go into effect on April 10, 2017. But just what this rule means – and more importantly, what it entails for you and other retirement savers – may be less than clear.

In short, the DOL fiduciary rule expands the definition of an “investment advice fiduciary,” as laid out in the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (or ERISA). As we briefly discussed in another post on 401(k) rollover options, this elevates financial professionals to a new status, ethically and legally speaking. Those who are paid to give recommendations about retirement accounts will be treated as “fiduciaries” under the rule.

As a result, they will be obliged to put your interests as a client first. The rule will require they give recommendations in your “best interest” as a retirement investor. They will also need to disclose any potential conflicts of interest which could influence their recommendation when they provide you investment advice for a fee or other compensation.

For a brief rule overview and how it will bring change, read on for some critical, need-to-know facts. In our view, this ruling is generally speaking a positive step for consumer protection. It helps protect you and other hard-working Americans from financial professionals who act unethically, do not act in your best interest when they should be, or do not consider your complete financial position before making a recommendation. However, it’s unfortunate that this sort of advisor conduct should require government-imposed conflict-of-interest standards to be levied – financial professionals should always act in their clients’ best interest, period, without exception.

Some Possible Outcomes for the DOL Rule

There will be wide-sweeping changes to the industry, from capital investments by financial firms to move into compliance, as well as the business operational costs of maintaining compliance. As a result, in some ways retirement planning advice may be more costly to you and other retirement savers.

An important note: The DOL rule was published during the Obama administration; with the Trump administration coming in, there is a possibility of the rule being delayed past the April 10th deadline, being changed, or even being abolished.

Unwrapping the DOL Fiduciary Rule

As mentioned earlier, the definition of a fiduciary has been expanded from just financial professionals who give ongoing advice. Now it covers other professionals, including financial salespersons such as:

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Top Retirement Issues

In the past, we’ve discussed ways to catch up on retirement saving. Other areas of focus have been how to determine how big your retirement fund should be, and the financial challenges seniors will face in retirement.

But what about retirement issues, in general? From healthcare expenses to accounting for all years of living in retirement planning, there’s a wide landscape with which to contend. Read on for more information about the top retirement issues of today.

What Retirement Issues Do Americans Face?

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SafeMoneyMasterLogo img

In a prior blog post, we discussed the importance of discussing financial matters with the family. When it comes to retirement lifestyle needs, it’s important to take heed of potential pitfalls as well. There are a number of challenges which could impact seniors’ financial security.

Greater generational wealth, increased life expectancy, and technological innovations all have exercised a heavy hand on the retirement planning process. Now there are more years for which seniors should plan financially. But what are some of the challenges which can impact retirement security?

Let’s take a closer look at some of these potential pitfalls below.

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SafeMoneyMasterLogo img

When it comes to retirement planning, there's no shortage of financial advice. But there’s hardly any such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. As we have emphasized before, any strategy must make sense for your financial picture. And for that matter, any financial recommendation should always be in your best interest as a client.

These dynamics bring up the value of transparency. Financial decisions are life-impacting. They are hardly small matters. At the point-of-sale, people rely upon the word, knowledge, and expertise of the financial professional with whom they’re working.

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SafeMoneyMasterLogo img

According to polling data from the National Institute on Retirement Security, Americans are frustrated with governmental efforts regarding their retirement. In a recent, nationwide public opinion survey, 87 percent said Washington policymakers don't understand how difficult it is to prepare for retirement. In another telling statistic, 84 percent indicated they thought Washington should be doing more to help ensure retirement security.

Along with these public sentiments, the retirement landscape in America itself is complicated:

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